Endor? Kinda! It’s Humboldt Redwoods State Park. | Public domain.

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Cardboard standees of R2-D2, C-3PO and Wicket the Ewok at the Eureka Visitor Center.

Have you ever wanted cocktails served to you by a Wookie? Maybe your out-of-town relatives would enjoy having an Imperial stormtrooper as their hotel concierge. Or perhaps you just want to see a kid’s face light up when they see the real Endor.

“Star Wars” fanatics could soon journey to the North Coast from far and wide to partake in just such cosplay-enhanced fantasies during a multi-day “Return of the Jedi”-themed festival.

At this week’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commissioner Cassandra Hesseltine laid out some of her ideas for growing the local showbiz scene, including plans to develop a three-day community event — tentatively called “Forest Moon Days” — based on our region’s featured role as Endor in the 1983 “Star Wars” sequel “Return of the Jedi.”

“We want it to be like a three day “Star Wars’ community event — sort of like ‘Twilight’ has in Oregon,” Hesseltine said, referring, presumably, to the four-day “Forever Twilight” festival held each September in Forks, Ore Wash.

That festival, themed around the mega-popular teen romance/fantasy film and book series, attracts thousands of tourists each year, Hesseltine said, and she imagines a similar crowd descending on Humboldt and Del Norte. 

The idea, she explained, would be to hold the festival during the first weekend in June to coincide with established events such as Eureka’s Friday Night Market and Arts! Alive. Guest speakers from the film production could potentially be brought in, and the Film Commission would collaborate with local businesses “so we would get everybody to buy into it,” Hesseltine said.

She suggested that employees of local hotels and restaurants might dress up in “Star Wars” garb and maybe serve themed food. (Evidently Ewoks are carnivores who consider human flesh a delicacy, so I dunno, maybe go with a fern theme instead?)

Hesseltine, who first floated this idea more than five years ago, noted that there will be copyright and intellectual property issues to navigate, “and we’d be working with Lucasfilm on that. But this could potentially be a huge tourism activity.”

The Redwood Sky Walk is ready for its closeup. 

The other big item on Hesseltine’s Christmas wishlist is a professional soundstage, a place where film and TV productions could record audio and shoot special effects.

“We’d be the only one between San Francisco and Portland,” she told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday. Such a facility would likely entice production teams to our region and keep them here longer, she added, explaining that past Hollywood productions only stuck around long enough to get footage in our natural surroundings.

“‘A Wrinkle in Time’ perhaps would have continued to stay here if we would have had a soundstage, but instead they filmed just the exterior shots [before leaving],” she said.

The Film Commission has been pushing for a soundstage since 2014, and Hesseltine said her “optimistic timeline” would see one up and running by 2024. 

No location for the soundstage has yet been identified. Earlier in Tuesday’s meeting a group of entrepreneurs had seen their dreams of converting a former lumber mill into a cannabis-growing compound go up in smoke, by all appearances, and after Hesseltine’s presentation Fifth District Supervisor Steve Madrone (jokingly?) suggested that vacant industrial site as an option.

A few film industry professionals and Film Commission employees were on hand to advocate for the soundstage concept. Director/producer and HSU film school grad Tracy Boyd, for example, said there’s enormous potential for Humboldt County to grow as a regional film hub.

“I can personally attest that no single investment can generate that growth more effectively and sustainably than the presence of a soundstage facility,” Boyd said. Shortly thereafter he added, “As the movies have taught us, if you build it, they will come.”

The Film Commission is funded in part through local government subsidies, along with grants. in June 2019, the county approved a new agreement with the commission directing five percent of the local Transient Occupancy Tax and an additional $20,000 annually to promote Humboldt County through programs of film and video productions.

Hesseltine told the supes that over the past dozen years there have been more than 250 film shoots in Humboldt and Del Norte counties, more than 200 of those here in Humboldt. 

“That’s approximately 14 million direct dollars that have come into the community [from] outside of the county,” Hesseltine said.

She also mentioned that she’s hoping to collaborate with local governments to launch some sort of incentive program to lure film productions here via tax breaks, rebates and other financial stimuli. The sci-fi TV series “Eureka” supposedly takes place in our county seat but the production was lured to shoot in Canada by such incentives, according to Hesseltine. 

After the presentation, the board unanimously agreed to extend the county’s professional services agreement with the Film Commission through June of next year. Coincidentally, Hesseltine said there may be “a major studio feature film” production coming here next summer.